We have the first 6 film titles from the International Competition at the 22nd Sofia Film Festival. Two of them are Bulgarian - "3/4" by Ilian Metev and "Radiogram" by Rouzie Hassanova
Awarded with Golden Leopard at Locarno in the competition "Cineasti del presente" ("Filmmakers of the Present"), "3/4" is Ilian Metev’s debut, who also received "Golden Rose" award in Varna for Best Director. Metev was awarded and admired for his documentary "Sofia’s Last Ambulance" (2012).
"3/4" focuses on the delicate relationship between family members during their last summer together. Mila is a gifted pianist with a bright future, yet her father pays more attention to Saturn’s rings than to her goals, and her brother tries to distract her with his unwanted talent for the absurd. All of the actors are amateur, playing with their real names and roles resembling their very own lives. Much of the script and dialogues are improvised.
"As I come from documentary cinema, it was more natural for me to work with people who play themselves. Who could play a pianist better than a pianist? As a director, I prefer not to change people, on the contrary, I want to create an environment where their character can stand out, where they can contribute as much as possible... I prefer to capture human behavior the way I see it every day...", Ilian Metev says about his work.
He was born in 1981 in Sofia, and since the age of 8 he has been living with his family in Germany. The musical theme in "3/4", evident from the title is close to him, as Metev played violin as a teenager, he planned a career in music, and among his performances are such for the German National Radio. Later, he studied fine art in London and graduated from the National Film and Television School. His director’s debut is a documentary about the inhabitants of Goleshovo village.
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"Radiogram" by Rouzie Hassanova was awarded with "Golden Rose" in 2017 at the national festival of Bulgarian films for a feature film debut. It is a film about music, freedom and identity. It was inspired by real events, and the story is very personal - about father from the Rhodope Mountains, who decides to walk almost 100 km to the nearest town so he can buy a new radio for his rock 'n roll obsessed son... Prototypes of the characters are the director’s grandfather and father. "All the other stories are memories from various relatives, combined in a way to tell a strong story about freedom and the power of music," says Rousie Hassanova.
According to her, despite the fact that the story takes place in Bulgaria, this was valid for everyone in Eastern Europe, who remembers the communist regime. The radiogram gives new meaning to the freedom that music offers. In the 1970s, the "Mersey-beat" (rock music genre from Liverpool,) rocked the UK and changed the musical horizon that also reached America. "Alas, the influence that this music had in Eastern Europe, and the things people had to do to be able just listen to it - all of this is not known today. Precisely this musical change is what inspires people and helps them to break down the Berlin Wall," says Rousie Hassanova in an interview for Cineuropa. For the roles in her film she puts her trust in Alexander Hadjiangelov, Yana Titova, Alexandar Alexiev, Aleksander Ivanov, Stefan A. Shterev, Deyan Georgiev, Stefan Mavrodiyev and Ovanes Torosian.
Rousie Hassanova was born in Kazanlak in 1980, but grew up in the Rhodopes. She graduated the mathematics high school Nikola Obreshkov in her hometown, and in 1998 she moved to England where she studied filmmaking at the London College of Communications. Her graduation project "Glashedy" received excellent marks.
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"Silent Night" by Piotr Domalewski is a film about family, tradition and emigration showing it as a Polish fate. The action unfolds on Christmas Eve in a house in a village in eastern Poland. Adam, a young economic emigrant, suddenly appears at the traditional dinner. No one in his big family knows the real reason of this unexpected visit ...
“Inspired by Turkish, Romanian and Iranian cinema, I wanted to make a film in which a small community is a metaphor of what's happening on a large scale. I knew I needed a simple story and thought about what was close to me. The answer was: a family of many generations and the issue of economic emigration. In eastern Poland, where I come from, in every family there is at least one person who has left the country and moved to the West to find a better realization. In my case, this was my brother. In Silent Night I described the Christmas Eve that I remember from my childhood but not necessarily in my home," says Piotr Domalewski in an interview for Cineuropa.
"Silent Night" is not just the best film of this year’s Gdynia Film Festival, but also one of the most important and mature Polish debuts in recent years. Domalewski combines important sociological diagnoses with a vivid history about family mysteries, about bred-in-the-bone wrongs and the love allowing to overcome them. This way he creates a film in which the Polish audience can see its own reflection", critics said during the film's presentation at the Gdynia Film Festival.
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"Namme" by the Georgian director Zaza Khalvashi is taking us to the mountains of Adjara, and the plot is based on a story of ancient Georgian mythology.
Ali's family has inherited a mission - taking care of a local healing water and curing sick fellow villagers with it. Three sons are skeptical and only the young daughter Namme stays as the guardian of family traditions. The city has a mixed population of Muslims and Christians. Namme meets Merab and they become close. In parallel, a hydro power station is being constructed locally and environmental changes are at stakes. One day the spring water starts to disappear. Father remembers the old tradition: the water will not return unless sacrifice is made...
Zaza Khalvashi was born in Batumi, Georgia and graduated Film Directing from the State University of Tbilisi in 1982. His tutors were Tengiz Abuladze and Revaz Chkheidze. Now he divides his time between creating art and teaching at the State University of Batumi.
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Maria Solrun‘s "Adam" (Germany, Iceland, USA, Mexico) is coming to the 22nd Sofia Film Fest right after its participation in Berlinale, where it will compete for "Crystal Bear" for Best Film in "Generation 14 plus" program. This is the second film of the Icelandic director after her feature debut Jargo, featured in the same section at the prestigious film forum. This time the legendary and always independent Jim Stark is standing behind Solrun as producer.
The aurally handicapped young protagonist Adam and his mother, a techno musician, have always lived in different worlds. At the same time, they are symbiotically connected: he feels her music directly with his body. When his mother is diagnosed with irreversible brain damage caused by alcohol, Adam suddenly has to look after himself. He faces his mother’s eager death wish in his very own laconic way, and the director gives him his voice, as well as plenty of space to develop.
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Another film from "Generation 14 plus" selection of Berlinale will take part in the International Competition at the 22nd Sofia Film Fest – "The Pigeon /Güvercin/" by the Turkish director Banu Shivatsi. The main character is Yusuf, a young man who lives with his brother and sister in one of Adana's docks. Only on the roof of his parents' house, above the alleys of a slum in Adana, with his beloved pigeons, Yusuf can find peace, and himself. Finding a foothold in the dystopian world outside is more difficult.
The rest of the titles that will compete for a 16th time for the Grand Prize "Sofia - a City of Film" in the competition for first or second feature film, containing a 7,000 euro cash bonus provided by Sofia Municipality - will be soon announced!